OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Since the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, there have been many changes in the attitudes of Korean people toward the Western way of life. One aspect where the West has penetrated the social lives of many Koreans is dancing in the styles we know as Latin-American, ballroom, jive, etc. Dance in these styles is really growing in popularity.
Accessibility to dance venues and instruction is easy around Osan. There are small dance studios on about every block from Pyongtaek City to Seoul where they teach Korean Social Dance, which is dancing to traditional Korean songs, and International Ballroom dances like Jive, Cha Cha, Rumba, Waltz and Tango.
The latter dances are called Dance Sports and many Koreans find that dance is not only enjoyable, but also a good form of exercise. International Ballroom competitions are held every month in Seoul hotel ballrooms or large gymnasiums around the city. Dance competitors range from grade school children to seniors.
Seoul has one of the best amateur International Ballroom dance communities in the world and each weekend hundreds of excellent dancers practice their sport at ballroom dance venues in Seoul.
Ballroom dancers in the United States do not come close to reaching the energy level and skill level displayed by typical Korean Ballroom dances.
In other parts of Seoul, mainly south of the Han River, Salsa clubs are very popular. Korean Salsa dancers are top notch since they stress technique over "feel." When you visit one of the hot Salsa Clubs, you will be blown away by a level of dance that is hard to match at any one spot in the U.S," said James Yoon a frequent patron of Seoul's Salsa clubs.
Americans and other international visitors may not be aware that Korea has such a high level of dancing.
Another growing segment of young dancers are flocking to clubs in Seoul and Suwon where Lindy Hop, Blues, Collegiate Shag and East Coast Swing are popular.
Christopher Crawford, a nationally recognized Lindy Hop and Blues dancer said, "South Korea has been the best dance experience in a decade for me ... if the Westerners can get past the verbal language barrier and realize that dance is a universal language, it will open up a new world of social interaction that people don't know exists in Korea.
"With this realization, they could truly have the time of there life here in Korea."
Still other Koreans party early into the morning at Seoul discos where they "dance" to live bands and the DJs keep the crowd in a frenzy.
If you haven't had dance lessons in any of the formal styles, the disco is the perfect venue to strut your stuff in your own individual way. The dance floor is always packed, often dark with many flashing lights - and even if you are standing still, you can still look pretty good.
I teach American Ballroom, Country and Latin Dancing Sunday evenings at the Mustang Club and with my dance partner at Yongsan's Collier Fieldhouse Fridays and Saturdays.
I can be reached at email@example.com
. For questions about Lindy Hop and other vintage forms of Swing, contact Chris Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org
. For questions about Salsa dancing, contact James Yoon at email@example.com